To promote Thirst, the new vampire film by Korean director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy), Focus Features sent journalists an IV bag filled with blood (or, more specifically, dark-red fruit punch). That’s certainly one way to get attention. But after Friday’s Comic-Con screening, this Twilight-for-adults horror romance, which opens in select cities on July 31, is also going to get a dose of full-blooded buzz.
Without giving too much away, Thirst concerns itself with priest-turned-vampire Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho). At the film’s beginning, Sang-hyun spends most of his time at a local hospital, praying with the ill and performing last-rite blessings for those about to depart this world. Disillusioned by death, he volunteers for a top-secret vaccine project in Africa designed to find a cure for the (fictitious) Immanuel Virus. While there, he’s infected with the virus and receives a blood transfusion—but with whose (or what’s) blood? Sang-hyun returns to South Korea miraculously healed of the disease, as long as he eats a hearty meal of human blood every night. He subsequently falls in love with Tae-ju (Kim Ok-bin), the seductive wife of a childhood friend. Suffice it to say, their (explicit) relationship would make Stephenie Meyer blush.
Thirst isn’t on the same level as Oldboy, but it does contain some unexpected moments of charm. Park excels at depicting how it might feel to be a vampire; during one virtuoso scene, Sang-hyun’s senses become so adept that he notices the microscopic dust mites that are biting into his skin. And the (almost entirely wordless) ending is a whopper. Yet be warned: Thirst is ultraviolent, disgusting, eccentric, melancholy, and completely void of Robert Pattinson.
The clip embedded below, however, is safe for work. So, PopWatchers, are you itching for a vampire movie without emo kids and chaste romancing?